CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Officials with the U.S. Air Force say lasers have been aimed at military planes in separate incidents in North Carolina.

The Charlotte Observer reports officials at Pope Army Airfield say the lasers were aimed at the aircraft near the field. According to a news release, the incidents occurred several weeks apart and came from two different locations.

Pope flight safety manager Rich Galley says lasers can distract or cause serious injury to pilots who already have several things to monitor while airborne.

According to the Air Force, the Federal Aviation Administration recorded more than 5,500 cases of lasers aimed at aircraft in the U.S. last year.

Pointing a laser at an aircraft is a federal crime punishable by up to five years in prison.

In March, the Air Force reported that someone pointed a laser at an Air Force C-17 as it approached Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, home to the North Carolina Air National Guard’s 145th Airlift Wing.

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